Sleep Apnea/Oral Appliances
Here at Woodcreek Dental, we consider sleep apnea to be a troubling sleep disorder that can cause moderate to severe disruption in sleep patterns through breathing difficulty. Though the symptoms can vary depending on the age of the sufferer, it can afflict anyone.
The condition normally presents when the airway is blocked. With obstructive sleep apnea, relaxed throat muscles close off the throat, and the sufferer is triggered by the brain to wake up due to lack of oxygen suddenly. Central sleep apnea originates from a disruption in brain signals to the muscles that control breathing. The signals can end up being delayed for as long as 20 seconds, forcing a sufferer to wake up out of breath suddenly. Anyone suffering a combination of the two is said to be affected by complex sleep apnea syndrome.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
The symptoms of sleep apnea can vary depending on the age of the sufferer but tend to overlap between the two main types. Many of these symptoms are reported on by a partner or anyone else who gets to see you when you are asleep. Loud snoring is not often known to the person exhibiting it until others tell them. Episodes where breathing has stopped, especially with central sleep apnea, are another symptom sufferers are unaware of until told.
Feelings of tiredness despite having had a long sleep is another indicator that unnoticed disruptions have occurred. Headaches, irritability, loss of concentration, and daytime sleepiness are also connected. Waking up with dry mouth also suggests frequent periods of gasping. An inability to fall asleep, or insomnia, is another common symptom. If left untreated, sleep apnea can induce a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart, and liver problems.
How Sleep Apnea Is Managed
In mild cases of sleep apnea, oral devices can be used to help keep the airway open. A mandibular advancement device works to keep the lower jaw in a forward position. Alternatively, you could try a tongue-retaining device that uses suction power to keep your tongue pulled away from the back of the throat. It may require a few tries to identify a suitable device that fits comfortably. Regular visits to our team can help with finding the right option and fit of an oral appliance. A wrong fit can lead to problems like soreness, misalignment of teeth, and slobbering.
For more severe cases, one may try sleep apnea implants. They work like pacemakers by stimulating muscles to keep the airway open as you breathe at night. The use of a continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP) mask can also help by providing a constant flow of air into breathing passages. Newer models are lightweight, quiet, and more comfortable making for a better night’s rest for you and your partner.
Bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP) devices are more advanced as they adjust the amount of oxygen being delivered according to the breathing patterns: more pressure when you are inhaling, and less when exhaling. Surgery is an option for the most serious cases with removal of excess soft tissue, tonsils, and adenoids being done. The jaw can also be reconstructed and rods implanted to support the soft palate.
Sleep apnea can have a significant effect on quality of life. To discover if you are being afflicted by this condition and how it can be resolved, make an appointment with us at Woodcreek Dental, at (805) 482-6389 today.
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